POST 2012 ELECTION DAY REPORT Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) National Technical Assistance Center for Voting and Cognitive Access Funded by AIDD through a subcontract with NDRN
GOAL • Little is known about the voting experiences of voters with DD. • This type of information is needed to support the Help America Vote Act. • Data will inform government agency officials, disability advocacy agencies, and the media about the voting experiences of individuals with DD on Election Day.
Partners • Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) National Technical Assistance Center (NTAC) for Voting and Cognitive Access… Project Vote. • National Disabilities Right Network (NDRN). • The Cincinnati UCEDD (University Center on Excellence and Developmental Disabilities) LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) trainees. • P&A’s and self advocacy groups from Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Illinois, Colorado.
Guiding Principles • The purpose of the checklist was to determine, from the voter’s perspective, if they were able to cast a private & independent ballot. • People with cognitive disabilities can require a more personalized approach to collecting information.
Approach • Checklist included DOJ Accessibility standards. • Checklist had to be easy to use & understand. • Trained interviewers (people with disabilities and partner). • For state P&A’s and self advocacy groups to partner to interview voters. • Courtesy contact to local board of elections about effort.
Strategy Checklists were collected for one week, post-election day, and then submitted to SABE Project Vote. The goal was to collect a minimum of 100 checklists. The total number of Checklists collected was 164. • Interviewed voters at polling locations. • At locations where large groups of people with disabilities gather. • Telephone interviews.
Election Day Polling Place Check List • DEAR INTERVIEWERS: Please help us in our effort to ensure that individuals with all kinds of disabilities can cast their private and independent ballot on November 6, 2012 by answering a few questions. Interviewer (s): ______Time Interviewed: ______ Polling Location: County____ State_____ How many parking spaces in the lot? _____ How many of the spaces are accessible? _____ • DISABILITY QUESTIONS Do you have a disability? ____Yes ____No If you are comfortable, please check type of disability: __Mental; __ Physical; ___ Sensory; ____ Motor; __Visual ___ If Other, please explain: ________________________
Check List Questions 1. Did you have any problem (s) finding a parking place at your polling location? ____Yes ____No ____Does not apply 2. Did you have any problems finding the way to enter your polling place? ____Yes ____No If yes, please explain_______ 3. Did you have a problem using your wheelchair to enter the building? ____Yes ____No ____Does not apply If no, why? ___________
Check List (Continued) 4. Once you entered the building, were there enough signs to find the location of the voting area? ____Yes ____No ____Entered directly into the voting booth area. 5. If there is a ramp/lift to enter the building, how do you think it is to use?: ____Easy to use ____Too Steep ____Lift hard to use ____No ramp/lift needed ____Other, ________________ 6. If you use a wheelchair, when you enter the voting area, is there enough room to get to the voting materials, check-in, voting machines, tables, chairs and is it wide enough for a person using a wheelchair to get around or at least 3 feet wide? ___Yes ____No ____Does not apply
Check List (Continued) 7. Were you able to vote privately and independently? ____Yes ____No 8. Did you feel the poll worker treated you any differently because of your disability? ____Yes, very helpful _____Yes, not very helpful ____No If yes, how ________________________
Check List (Continued) Optional Questions: • Have you voted before? ___Yes ___No • Is this your first time to vote? ____Yes ____No • Have you had any vote training getting ready for this election? ____Yes ____No Comments________________ • What age range are you: ____18-25 ____26-39 ____40-55 ____55 and over • ____Male ____Female
Accessibility Comments • The poll worker told the voter he could not have an assistant help her to vote because she did not look like she had a disability. • Voter overheard poll worker complaining about voters who use accessible equipment… ”thank goodness they are not using that equipment”.
Comments Continued • Privacy of one’s vote was questionable: when voter used a table with “privacy screens” they were too close together and located in an area that everyone in the room could read their ballot. • When the number of people voting had to wait in long lines, some locations used the “zig-zag amusement park, airport line” approach. This was a great option but the line spaces were too narrow for people using a wheelchair.
Voters Interviewed • Gender: 46% male, 45% female, 7% no response. • Voter Training Before Voting: 52% none, 38% yes and 10% did not indicate. • Frequency of Voting: 83% returning voters, 10% NEW Voters and 7% did not indicate.
What We Learned 1. Check List questions were confusing. We tried so hard to follow DOJ guidelines we lost site of asking questions the voters could answer. 2. Best way to collect the most accurate information is at the polling places and best way to reach a large number of voters is interviewing them in settings where large groups of people with disabilities gather. 3. Need more interviewers at polling places on Election Day to get a better cross section of voters. 4. More time is needed to organize an event like this!
Recommendations • For SABE and other self advocacy groups to work closer with P&A’s to distribute the 800 call in number for voter assistance, voting day problem resolution, and questions. • How to reach voters not connected to the disability community? But do have a disability? Could our relationship with P&A’s help do this?
Recommendations Continued Poll workers need training! Why can’t people first groups and P&As be part of the training so poll workers could practice assisting a voter with disabilities to use the accessible equipment?
For More Information www.govoter.org or Essie Pederson, Co-Director SABE NTAC for Voting and Cognitive Access Essie.firstname.lastname@example.org